Sisters schools enrollment numbers up


Last updated 10/12/2022 at Noon

The Sisters School District is seeing an increase in enrollment numbers to start the 2022-23 school year.

One of the most notable statistics is the number of students attending Sisters Elementary School.

As of October 3, the numbers were the highest at the elementary school, totaling 398 students. There are 90 second graders, the highest grade level numbers in the elementary school. Sisters Middle School came out at 356 and Sisters High School at 393, with high numbers in the ninth and 10th grades. The total number of students enrolled in in-person classes and online stood at 1,147. According to Superintendent Curt Scholl, “enrollment is the highest it’s been since I’ve been superintendent here.”

The enrollment numbers include all students, including those who are choosing to continue online school remotely at all grade levels, with four students at the elementary school working online.

For Sisters schools, enrollment numbers are generally higher in May/June than they are in September/October.

“That is good for us, that we have good numbers now and after the 10-day drop,” said Scholl at the school board meeting Wednesday, October 5.

Scholl is entering his eighth year with the Sisters School District as superintendent, and is entering a full in-person school year after two years of pandemic restrictions in the classroom. Scholl has made it a goal for this school year to spend two hours a week in each school building interacting with teachers and students in the classrooms.

Scholl described his ideas on the increase in the number of students at the elementary school: “Our higher numbers in the elementary schools are attributed to the general population growth in Sisters Country, and I speculate that the ability to telecommute has given some younger families the ability to work remotely and choose a smaller community to raise their family — but that is more speculative than anything.”

The higher numbers of students in all the schools poses a scheduling conflict, figuring out when teachers can have more prep time between classes.

“The impact on programming is that we need more ‘specials’ to provide teachers with their prep time. So, in addition to PE, we also have Music, Art, and STEM that students are rotated through as we provide their homeroom teachers with their daily prep,” said Scholl.

Staffing for the three schools has been another thing they have to figure out, with a lack of affordable housing for teachers and their families.

Scholl spoke about intentions to seriously look at affordable housing for staff.

“We are collaborating with the University of Oregon graduate program looking at land planning and how we can best utilize this asset (the soon-to-be former elementary school site), and how we support potential future employees,” he said.

They are touring the elementary school campus and looking at how to best use that property, potentially for affordable housing options.

Higher numbers are causing even more of a need for the new elementary school building, set for groundbreaking this fall. The new building is located adjacent to the existing middle school, creating a shared campus area for all three Sisters schools.

According to the SSD website:

“The City of Sisters passed a $33,800,000 general obligation bond to pay for the construction costs of a new elementary school within Sisters School District (SSD), as well as related support and maintenance costs associated with the district’s 2016 Master Plan.

“It will allow for increased safety, transportation, operational, and educational benefits for all the students in the district. Fifth grade will return to the elementary school location, which is better aligned with educational best practices and provides additional capacity in the middle school.”

According to Scholl at the school board meeting, they are on track budget-wise with the bid packages to proceed with construction of the new elementary school, breaking ground this fall. The expected date of competition is April 2024, with classes beginning in September 2024.


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